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What Steph Gaudreau Eats to Fuel Her Fitness

There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for fueling your fitness endeavors. Here’s how Steph Gaudreau powers and recovers from her workout.

Steph Gaudreau lifting weights.

Steph Gaudreau (on @steph_gaudreau) is a nutritional-therapy practitioner, certified intuitive-eating counselor, and longtime athlete and strength coach. Her book, The Core 4: Embrace Your Body, Own Your Power, features strength workouts and nutritional guidance focused on moving and eating with intention. Here’s how she fuels for fitness.

Experience Life | Describe your training and nutrition goals.

Steph Gaudreau | My current philosophy with food and training uses a combination of intuition and knowledge, as well as data about my menstrual cycle, to guide my decisions.

Overall, my goals are to continue to maintain my strength and health for a long period of time. My days as a competitive athlete have begun to wind down, because the intensity of training that it takes to compete is high.

Currently, I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu four or five times a week and strength-train twice, so I eat plenty of protein and a moderate amount of carbohydrates to support the energetic demands of those activities plus recovery.

EL | Do you use tests to inform your food and fitness choices?

SG | No, I haven’t fallen down that rabbit hole yet. While I find data interesting, I’m focused on gathering qualitative information about how I feel and how my body is functioning compared with baseline, plus using basic blood work to track other markers.

EL | How has your food regimen changed over time?

SG | I’ve done it all: from the standard American diet to low-fat eating in my early 20s, then strict low-carb paleo in my early 30s, intermittent fasting, macro counting — you name it.

For me, what works best now is a mostly whole-foods approach with moderate carbs, two or three meals daily, and the occasional fun foods. I eat chocolate every night and I’m not one bit sorry for it. I used to be really strict and militant about food and super-clean eating. Looking back, that didn’t bring me better health or more enjoyment of life. The way I’m eating now is a much better fit. It’s a place that, 20 years ago, I don’t think I could have envisioned I’d be with food.

EL | Describe a day in your life.

SG | I wake up between 5:30 and 6 a.m., drink 16 ounces of water followed by cold-brew coffee with heavy cream that I’ll sip on throughout the morning. I take a BJJ class at 7 a.m., followed by a postworkout shake with whey protein and coconut water before heading home to shower, eat, and get work started. At 9 a.m., I sit down to eat breakfast. Generally, I eat leftovers that feature protein, veggies, some kind of dense carb like sweet potato, rice, or quinoa, healthy fat, and a ferment like sauerkraut. One of my favorite leftover breakfasts is actually soup or stew because it’s so comforting and warming, especially in colder weather.

I work from home from about 9:30 to 6 p.m., and usually break for lunch around 2. Typically this looks like some kind of big salad with tons of veggies, greens, protein like tuna and hard-boiled egg, quinoa, seeds like sunflower, more ferments, and either olive oil and balsamic vinegar or Primal Kitchen Ranch dressing (I’m obsessed). Dinner is either something in the Instant Pot or something like baked meatballs with sauce, roasted veggies, and chickpea pasta. Sometimes my husband and I order out. Indian food is one of our favorites. Lights out at 9:30 p.m.

EL | Do you have any favorite recipes to share?

SG | Most of my favorite recipes have made their way onto my website, stephgaudreau.com! I think there are more than 400 recipes there now. Some favorites are the Apple Cranberry Sweet Potato Bake and Cast Iron Skillet Chicken Thighs.

This originally appeared as “Fit Fuel” in the May 2020 print issue of Experience Life.

Maggie is an Experience Life senior editor. Michael is an Experience Life deputy editor. Jill is a health journalist based in Minnesota and contributed reporting for this piece.

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